'Judge Hamlet' Profiled in Daily Journal


Although the Web site of the L.A. Daily Journal, the local legal community's Variety, sits behind a paid-subscription firewall, try to track down reporter Ciaran McEvoy's August 14 profile of U.S. District Judge George Wu.
All judges have distinctive personalities, and Wu has a reputation for being the Hamlet of jurists, known for sometimes taking excruciatingly long periods of time to rehash arguments in open court before finally rendering an opinion. Readers to L.A. Daily will recall how he put off, during the Lori Drew "MySpace Hoax" trial, a decision on the defense's Rule 29 motion to have all charges against Drew dismissed for lack of evidence and to have her declared innocent. Wu must have been impressed by the November, 2008 motion because he mulled it over all the way past the jury verdict and into July, 2009, when Wu finally tossed out the few misdemeanor convictions jurors had hung on Drew. Then Wu announced that even this sentencing decision was "tentative."

In his DJ story ("Judge Deliberates - and Deliberates Some More"), McEvoy notes that "rolled eyes, shrugged shoulders and impatient sighs often follow one of Wu's delays."

McEvoy, who recently helped break the story

of a federal investigation involving former school board member David

Tokofsky and L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, says this of the high-profile

conviction of Morro Bay medical-marijuana dispensary operator Charlie

Lynch: "Two months and three sentencing hearings later, Wu handed down

a one-year sentence on June 11 and said he would issue a written

explanation of why he gave Lynch less than the mandatory minimum of

five years that the government was seeking. Attorneys are still waiting

for his official ruling."

To be fair (and Wu has his supporters among grateful defense

attorneys), the federal judge is known for his rigorous legal research,

long work hours and deft use of the Socratic method to arrive at

decisions after consulting lawyers and government prosecutors. The main

complaint certainly isn't that Wu shoots from the hip -- but that he

seldom shoots, period.


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